Racist, anti-labour, anti-democratic – her record is clear!
Dikang, Socialist Action
The current smear campaign against refugees is being used by the pro-government camp to create “an issue” to win votes and split the pan democratic camp ahead of the Legco elections in September. One of the smear campaign’s main protagonists is Exco member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, leader of the right-wing New People’s Party. She wants a prison camp to be set up on “an outlying island” in Shenzhen for asylum seekers. Ip calls this a “good deterrent”.
This is not the first time Ip has sounded like a Hong Kong Donald Trump. Last year, she was forced to apologise for racist and sexist remarks in a newspaper column against domestic workers from the Philippines. Ip’s recantation came only after numerous protests organised by migrant workers.
In her newspaper article, Ip said foreign women were upset the government was “allowing Filipino domestic helpers to seduce their husbands”. She described the women as “sexual resources” for Westerners.
Ip’s racist outbursts follow a history of supporting anti-labour and anti-democratic causes. She and other establishment politicians opposed the right of abode for foreign domestic workers when this issue was being fought in the courts in 2011. This coincided with Hong Kong’s District Council elections and shows how right-wing politicians like Ip use racist scare campaigns to create confusion and fear in an attempt to shift the political debate away from real issues like (no) pensions, (low) wages and unaffordable housing.
She has also advocated the establishment of a “trial period” for foreign domestic workers of three months in which time the employer would have the right of summary dismissal, with the required paid notice cut from one month to seven days. In 2011, she supported proposals that employers’ requirement to pay the medical expenses for foreign domestic workers should be capped.
Previously, Ip has also made highly exaggerated claims about Hong Kong being overwhelmed by immigrants from mainland China. As the Secretary for Security in 1999, she opposed the right of abode for mainlanders born out of wedlock to a Hong Kong parent, making the wildly inaccurate prediction that within a decade 1.67 million people from mainland China would emigrate to Hong Kong. Actual migration during the period was less than half the level she claimed.
She is most well known for her strong push during 2003 as the Secretary for Security to implement the draconian Article 23, a national security law. The legislation was stopped by a massive 500,000-strong protest movement and Ip was forced to resign. She complained later she had been forced to stay “away from home for three years” in the United States following her resignation in 2003. Really? Or was she just a “fake refugee” in America?
During the 2014 mass umbrella movement she was a vocal supporter of a tougher police response and has spoken up for resurrecting Article 23.
After Ip’s racist outburst against Filipinos, organisations representing migrant workers did the right thing to quickly and clearly come out not only through the media but by organizing collective action and protests. This is the best way to expose racist politicians and build anti-racist support.